Asia

Nepal blockade: First vehicles pass through

Nepalese and Indian bystanders look on as cargo trucks pass through the India-Nepal border at Birgunj, some 90kms south of Kathmandu. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Bystanders watched trucks pass through the border at Birgunj, about 90km south of Kathmandu

A vital border crossing between Nepal and India has been opened to traffic for the first time in more than four months.

Frustrated local residents and traders dismantled roadblocks set up by ethnic Madhesi groups, letting some vehicles through.

The Madhesi groups have been demanding changes to a new constitution which they say doesn't represent them.

The result has been severe shortages of fuel and other supplies across Nepal.

The Madhesi groups - representing people living in southern plains bordering India - have been holding protest movements demanding their better representation in the new constitution.

The protests have resulted in the deaths of over 50 people.

The Madhesi groups insist however that their blockade is still in effect.

Local officials said that vehicles had managed to pass through for the first time on Friday.

"There is no blockade at the checkpoint right now, and over 150 small and big vehicles have passed through since this afternoon," local police chief Raju Babu Shrestha told AFP.

Last month, Nepal's parliament approved first amendment of the constitution in order to address some of their demands such as proportional and inclusive representation of marginalised communities.

However, the Madhesi groups called it inadequate. They have vowed to reconvene on Saturday to decide what to do in response to the lifting of the blockade.

The Nepalese government also accuses India of deliberately worsening the embargo - something India denies.

Among the worst-hit supplies have been essential medicines.


Read more on Nepal's crisis:

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Madhesi activists say the government has used excessive force against protesters

Why is Nepal's new constitution controversial?

Why India is concerned about Nepal's constitution

Fuel crisis threatens Nepal's forests

Nepal blockade: Four die in clashes


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